What weighs over 2,300 pounds and is good for children? The nine Carolina Panthers players who traveled to Fort Bragg Main Post Parade field May 14, for a football day camp.
Ryan Kalil, Charles Johnson, Drayton Florence, Graham Gano, D.J. Campbell, Jeff Byers, Thomas Austin, Richie Brockel and Frank Kearse directed the 190, fifth graders from on-post elementary schools through various football activity stations.
The drill stations simulated football-like drills, which included tackling, running and agility, kicking, passing and catching.
The event was well received and the message was clear — get out and exercise.
“It’s an incredible experience just to be here, but I think to continue to push the Play 60 message of advocating the kids to continue to get out, exercise and not so much have an exercise routine, but to just play,” said Kalil, Panther’s center.
While the players enjoyed watching and instructing, the children took advantage of hanging out with their designated Carolina Panthers players.
“I like that we get to hang out and talk to the player,” said Adriana Ortiz, 11, a fifth grader at Irwin Elementary School. “It’s great because you are exercising and having fun at the same time.”
Players made sure to emphasize the importance of not only playing and exercising, but also focusing.
“It’s a day and age that started in my youth where video games have become big,” said Kalil. “Technology makes it easy for us to be on the couch and not only is it important for us to stay active, but sports make it possible for us to be interactive with other people,” he said.
“Sometimes young and older people have a hard time disconnecting from technology and I think Play 60 does a great job of continuing to be reason for physical exercise,” Kalil added.
While the NFL and the military coming together was about giving Fort Bragg’s elementary age children the opportunity to exercise through the Play 60 camp, the day did have an educational component as well.
The NFL and the Army are working to raise concussion awareness to provide better treatment for those injured. There is still much to learn regarding symptoms, effects and preventative measures, but by increasing awareness and education, the hope is that the stigma surrounding concussions will gradually dissipate.
“We’re just trying to raise concussion awareness for Soldiers and their Families,” said Dr. Steven Lewis, chief of Brain Injury Medicine at Womack Army Medical Center. “We want to reduce the stigma of seeking care for a concussion. We want everyone to understand the importance taking yourself out of the game or the battlefield.”